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Should Your New Gym Buddy Be a Goat?

A recent viral TikTok seems to indicate that the secret to a jacked neck is headbutting a goat. Is the guy behind the video a fitness GOAT, or sticking his neck somewhere it doesn’t belong?

A new video has gone viral in which a very muscular man challenges a goat to a literal head-to-head showdown, with him and the goat gamely forcing their brows against one another to see who will yield first. After roughly 20 seconds of deadlocked combat, the goat directs a forceful, yet seemingly effortless shove into the man’s noggin, and the man relents, ceasing to engage with the goat any further.

Some people — including the poster of the video — have hailed this as the ultimate form of neck training. Others (read: me) view it as the height of insanity. Is the truth somewhere in the middle? Absolutely not. But let’s have a little fun with it anyway.

Why do you need to have a strong neck?

Other than for postural reasons — which typically don’t require direct neck exercises to address — the majority of those who seek to train their necks are athletes involved in sports that are typified by frequent blows to the head (namely, football players, wrestlers, boxers and hockey players).

There are many different ways they can add size and strength to the muscles of their necks. Wrestlers often perform a battery of ground-based neck bridges to prepare themselves for the rigors of what they’ll face when they’re grappling on the mat. Mike Tyson trained similarly in order to develop a massive neck that was more than 20 inches in circumference and capable of cushioning the impact of his opponents’ punches. 

If you don’t feel like pressing your head directly into the floor, there are far safer ways to train your neck that involve both weights or isometric training exercises. Generally speaking, all of these methods are effective at accomplishing the objective of achieving a stronger neck.

How reasonable, reliable and predictable is goat-butting as a training method?

Let’s suppose that you could steadily access the goat at whatever time you desired for spontaneous neck training. What you’re really doing in this instance is initiating an isometric hold against a barely motile object. Your neck is holding on for dear life in the interest of stability, but the majority of the force being generated in order to maintain the strained contact with the goat’s head is coming primarily from your legs, and shooting up through the muscles of your core

Obviously, the muscles of the neck are employed to keep the head braced in a stable position. But even under perfect conditions — i.e., the goat thinks that you’re attempting to play with it on its own terms — there are far more efficient ways to train your neck than dueling with livestock.

To say nothing of the worst-case scenario, during which the goat may reckon that you’re attempting to establish dominance over it, and it definitely has more riding on the outcome of such a battle than merely developing a sexy neck. 

So there’s nothing effective about the goat-tussling method of neck training?

Allow me to put it another way: The heads and necks of sheep and goats are specially designed with bones, sinuses and other cranial structures that are built to absorb the precise sort of shock that enables them to casually walk away from head-to-head collisions while traveling at speeds of 10 or more miles per hour. Human beings enduring head-to-head impacts at similar speeds would be instant candidates for waking up inside of an MRI machine. 

The point is, goats are anatomically tailored for these sorts of skirmishes while humans are not.

And so, while it obviously has far less of a chance of going viral, I’d stick to the aforementioned wrestling neck bridges — the petting zoo of neck workouts — if I were you.